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Experts Warn Against Using Public Phone Charging Stations Over Juice Jacking Trend

by : Emily Brown on :
Experts Warn Against Using Public Phone Charging Stations Over Juice Jacking TrendPixabay

Experts have warned against the use of public phone charging stations as they can provide opportunities for your device to be hacked. 

The practice is known as ‘juice jacking’ because data can be ‘jacked’, or stolen, when your phone is low on ‘juice’ and requires charging.

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Hackers are able to infiltrate your device by installing malware either in the charging station itself or in attached USB cables, through which they can access personal information like emails, passwords, photographs and messages.

Phone charging stationPA Images

Authorities have issued warnings about the trend in the past, but recently NBC News conducted an experiment to prove just how much information hackers can get access to.

Cybersecurity expert Jim Stickley created a homemade charging station installed with special hardware that mimicked the way juice jacking works, which he then set up along the Port of San Diego in Southern California – a popular tourist destination.

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NBC News correspondent Vicky Nguyen posed as the first victim and plugged her phone into the charging station before starting to browse through her messages and contacts. Through the hacking software, everything Nguyen did on her phone was mirrored and recorded on Stickley’s own device.

Phone chargingPixabay

At one point, Nguyen made an online order which required her to enter her bank card details. In turn, Stickley was able to make note of her card number and security code; information which he could have later used to steal her money.

Commenting on juice jacking, Stickley said:

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Depending on the vulnerability [hackers] exploit, they would have access to everything you would have access to on your phone.

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In the four hours in which the makeshift charging station was set up, dozens of people stopped to plug in their phones. Naturally, many were shocked to learn the USB cables could be responsible for leaking so much of their data.

Stickley admitted he wasn’t surprised by the public’s shock, explaining:

Most people assume their computers can be hacked. Most people assume their phones can’t.

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Man on phonePexels

The cybersecurity expert warned personal emails are among the most critical pieces of information a hacker can gather from a person’s phone, as they can later be used to reset passwords.

He continued:

Having access to your email has become very valuable, because, if you think about it, every account you have requires access to your email. Everybody’s login is your email, and that’s the problem.

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The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has recommended charging phones at power outlets instead of USB power stations or buying portable chargers that can be used on the go.

Stay safe out there!

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Technology, Data, Hacking, Los Angeles, phones

Credits

NBC
  1. NBC

    Juice jacking: Why you should avoid public phone charging stations